With so many options now available at the tips of our fingers, it's not uncommon to ask the question if a particular service or product will benefit you. And while it's not uncommon to ask this question about therapy as well, it's important to remember that therapy creates a safe environment in which everyone can benefit. Many people seek therapy for a variety of reasons - perhaps it's to rebuild after a trauma, to tackle anxiety or simply to find a new way to live life more authentically. Therapy creates the lens that allows us to take a more truthful look at ourselves and it provides a guide to help you navigate unknown areas. Similar to using your GPS app when you travel out of town (or around town for some of us), it can give you the instructions for you to drive in the direction you desire.
I would estimate that less than ten percent of our nation actually sees a therapist on a regular basis. I am confident that more than ten percent of the population is experience challenges with their mental health including understanding changes in their job, relationships, finances, or family. This leads me to conclude that there are people out there who are facing these problems alone. Often times when we feel like we are alone it leads to further worsening of symptoms.
Some of the signs that might indicate therapy could be helpful in your situation include the following:
- Feeling sad and unmotivated. If you have had feelings of hopelessness, decreased energy, sadness, irritability, thoughts of suicide, feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, or are no longer finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, you may be dealing with depression and may benefit from talking to a professional.
- Excessive worry. If you feel as though your anxiety is interfering with your ability to do normal activities and/or you are unable to sleep at night due to ongoing rumination about your difficulties, you may want to consider seeking help.
- Trauma or abuse. If you have experienced any type of traumatic event or abusive relationship, coming to terms with your experience by talking to an empathic other can be extremely helpful. Trauma and abuse can leave long-term scars that, if left untreated, can negatively impact your life, relationships, and ability to experience joy or happiness.
- Relationship problems. If your relationship has become unfulfilling and you feel you are no longer able to communicate effectively with your significant other, seeking out couples counseling can be a helpful step in getting your relationship back on track.
- Difficult life transitions. We all face difficult life situations at times–the loss of a job, a move to a new city, a divorce, or the loss of a loved one. When difficulties such as these arise and you find it difficult to move on, talking with a therapist can be an effective way to process your feelings and work through any lingering grief.
- Addictions. If you are struggling with any type of addiction—substance abuse, an eating disorder, gambling, or sex addiction—this could be a sign you are trying to cope with unresolved issues or feelings in unhealthy and inappropriate ways and may obtain benefit from professional help.
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors. If you are spending too much time double checking to make sure you have turned off the stove, obsessively washing your hands, or are consumed by compulsive thoughts, receiving therapy could be extremely beneficial in getting your life in order.
- Children excessively acting out. If your child or children have been misbehaving and you are at your wit’s end trying to figure out what to do, talking with a professional who has experience with children’s issues can be helpful. A therapist can frequently provide you with some additional parenting tools to make your life easier.
In addition to helping with the issues above and others, obtaining professional help may provide you with more insight and awareness. Although it can sometimes feel scary to take the first step to reach out, reducing your symptoms and learning to cope in healthier ways can make doing so more than worthwhile.